Thursday, May 22, 2008

Galactica Log: Guess What's Coming To Dinner, Part 1

The title of this episode comes from the 1967 movie, Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. A liberal, upper middle class family meets their daughter’s fiancé and he turns out to be black. The parents have to face up to the values they’ve been teaching their little girl. With Katherine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, and Sidney Poitier, the film boasts some great acting (though no one ever remembers the daughter, played by Katherine Houghton). It’s all about people coming together. I can only assume Moore and Eick were being ironic when they settled on the title for this episode. Even as the humans and the rebel Cylons settle into an actual alliance, they can’t stem the tide as everything continues to fall apart.

It starts off on an unusual note, with Lee confronting Roslin about Baltar’s radio sermons. Apparently, she has continued to ignore them, even though he is now claiming that she shares dreams with two Cylons, Athena and Caprica 6. It’s an interesting claim and just what his point is in making it isn’t clear. In their exchange Roslin comes across as arrogant, above Quorum, which she obviously doesn’t respect, and, by inference, above the people it is elected to represent. She, you’ll recall, wasn’t elected. She’s was chosen by the military. She does concede, to Lee, that Baltar is right. She is sharing ‘hallucinatory visions’ with the Cylons.

Later she has a morning briefing with Tory and confronts her aide about her relationship with Baltar, ‘you're down there enough to be a charter member of his nymph squad.’ Tory is horrified. Embarrassed and ashamed. What happened to the new, perfect Tory? Hopefully it’s gone. I don’t think raving sociopath is a direction that would remain interesting for very long. Now we’ll get to see the real Tory versus the Tory she thinks she’s entitled to be. Roslin wants information. How did Baltar learn of the dream? Actually, she denies the truth of the accusations, to Tory anyway, but insists her aide learn his source. If she really wanted to her aide to believe he is lying, why would she assume there is a source beyond Baltar? Tory does succeed in getting a confession out of him. He was told of the visions, through his lawyer, by Caprica 6. It’s a lie. Baltar has been a player for a long, long time. He’s not going to fall for her attempt at playing Delilah. And later Roslin guesses the truth.

From Lee’s meeting with Roslin, the episode quickly jumped to the arrival of the Demetrius and the base ship. When they originally rendezvoused it was with a clichéd moment of melodrama and the melodrama continues as they arrive back at the fleet. The two ships plan to arrive together, so that the Galactica won’t think it’s under attack. Of course there is a problem and the base ship arrives first. And, of course, its communications are down and it can’t radio the truth about its intentions. All Vipers are scrambled and they are just about to open fire when Tigh steps up and orders them not to shoot. Michael Hogan is great. In an instant you see Tigh’s indecision. Should he speak up? Why doesn’t it look right? What will people think if he’s right? What if he’s wrong? But he isn’t wrong. The Demetrius arrives and explains all. Of course.

Natalie, the rebel leader (yes, she’s called the rebel leader), arrives to propose an alliance. The rebels want to unbox D’anna, learn the identity of the Five and, from them, the way to Earth. They can’t do it without Galactica, but they have something to offer in return for the Colonist’s help. We’ve already heard of Resurrection ships. This episode introduces a new piece of Cylon hardware, the Resurrection Hub. It houses the database that contains the individual experiences that make each Cylon unique. Destroy it and you’ve destroyed their ability to resurrect. Their mortal enemies will become truly mortal. As plot devices go, it’s a good one. Why would they ally themselves with the rebels, after all that’s happened? It doesn’t really stand up to analysis. Wouldn’t this information be available at each Resurrection ship? And wouldn’t it make more sense to network this database across those ships, so Cylons could be readily downloaded anywhere? Since the end of season two and the One Year Later jump the story has assumed that all the Cylons were following the humans, at least until this Civil War. But before then the Cylons were split between those following the fleet and those occupying the Colonies. Have they abandoned the Colonies? And what about the Cylon homeworld, which has been referred to a couple of times, but never integrated into the larger story? If there is to be a centralized hub, in addition to the Resurrection ships, wouldn’t that be the obvious location? But, if you want an alliance, this is just the sort of clincher the humans would need. The Cylons get the Five in return for their losing immortality.

But just because they are working together, doesn’t mean they trust one another. Roslin, Adama, Tigh and Helo discuss their next step and agree to their own caveat: they will hold on to the Five until they all reach Earth. The 2s, 6s, and 8s agree on one of their own: they will take the humans working from the base ship hostage until they are given the Five. Its all about trust, except there isn’t any. Tigh is opposed to the plan altogether. Just destroy the hub. If the Raiders really did call off the earlier attack because the Five were among them, why now? If the Five are in the Fleet, then they’ve been there a while. That hadn’t stopped attacks in the past. Actually, Tigh makes his argument very forcefully, even referring the Cylons as “slit eyed, black bastards”, but he doesn’t carry the day. He doesn’t want to be discovered. And he has no idea where Earth is!

Through all this there was Gaeta. He did lose his leg. No surprise there. He tells Cottle that he wants it taken off under local only. He doesn’t want to wake up with it missing. Afterwards he consoles himself with song. Alessandro Juliana is a trained classical singer and he provides a haunting dirge-like melody throughout the episode. Their mythology may be Greek, but their music is Celtic. It works very well, though I hope it’s limited to one episode. Soldiers have been losing legs since time immemorial and Gaeta is just going to have to get a prosthetic and move on (no pun intended). So does Anders, who looks terrible. He may be an athlete, but he isn’t a soldier. Not when the other guy is a human. And maybe not when the other guy is a Cylon. He looks like someone with no further interest in killing.

The alliance is meant to be a secret, but no sooner is it agreed to, than Zarek presents it to the Quorum. Who is his source? Is he abusing his privileges as Vice-president? Lee convinces Roslin to try and bring the Quorum on board – they just want to included – so Natalie is brought in to present her case to them. She tells them that they aren’t that much different, really. Except that human life has an element that gives it meaning, death. The one thing humans spend their lives ‘distressing over.’ The destruction of the hub will bring them closer together. Personally, I can’t say that I spend any time distressing about death. I tie my life’s meaning to my faith, my actions, my relationships. To the things that make up my life. Again, like the hub, it serves to move things forward (two MacGuffins in one episode!) Tying each episode’s tensions to the Quorum does provide fuel to Lee’s presumed rise to the top. That’s the sort of build up Cally’s death needed.

During Natalie’s speech Kara thinks about what the Hybrid said and decides to reveal to the President the part about the dying leader and the opera house. She doesn’t say anything else. Roslin and surprised and decides she needs to know the truth. She arranges a visit to the Hybrid and takes Baltar along. She realizes that if he is part of the dream, he is likely having them too. A shared dream time. That could also explain Hera’s strange behaviour. She’s been drawing pictures of a blond in her scrap book, with the number 6 being repeated over and over. When her mother discovers this, she runs off down the hall. Scenes of her running through the ship are intercut with scenes of her running through the opera house. Watching it I couldn’t help but wonder if this was the same opera house that was built on ancient Kobol (see image above) and whether Hera was capable of visualizing new surroundings the way Cylons can. Maybe she saw herself in the dream. In it, she runs until she meets the 6, who takes her away from her mother and to Baltar. I am sure that’s what Athena was thinking. She was going to lose her baby if she didn’t do something right away. Hera runs into Natalie – just like the 6 in the dream. Athena pulls out her sidearm and demands her child back. Natalie is confused. She isn’t a part of the dream and has no idea what’s going on. Or maybe she does. She did make a point of mentioning Hera to Athena while aboard the base ship. Anyway, once Hera is taken from the scene, Athena tells Natalie that she will never take her child and shoots her.

These scenes are also intercut with Roslin’s visit to the Hybrid. The Hybrid’s tank still has the blood of the 8 in it. As soon as she is reconnected she shouts ‘Jump!’ and the base ship disappears. End of a great episode.

There were also countless little points and observations throughout: When they thought they were under attack, the President’s shuttle was described as ‘en route’. Is she no longer living on the Galactica? When Tigh asked who shot Gaeta, what was he really thinking? I’ve never thought he liked Gaeta. Base ships can heal themselves! When Natalie initially presented her deal to Adama, Roslin, Tory, and Tigh, the guards were lined up in a semi-circle behind her. If they had opened fire, they would have killed the Colonial leadership and two of the Five. Baltar accuses Roslin of ‘co-opting the rhetoric of patriotism to keep everyone in the dark’. The episode’s nod to current events. Now that the Hybrid is revived, who is in command of the base ship? Will the Centurians allow her to be disconnected again? And the episodes best line: When the Four learn that D’Anna knows the identity of all Five, Tigh says, “All [the revelation of the Fifth Cylon is] going to do is crowd the airlock.”

Finally, a couple of points gleaned from the internet. NBC Universal wants to do more BSG movies. This is coming from the network and not the producers, but I am not sure it’s a good thing. If this season is all about closure, why go back and recon things? Also, in a podcast Moore has said that the Quorum is modeled after the British parliamentary system. Given that the show it taped in Canada and Canada uses that system, you think someone might have pointed out just how ridiculous a statement that is! There is no episode next week, so there won’t be a Galactica Log either. The next will be up June 5th. ‘Till then…

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